Many different types of brandies exist -- from grape brandies to fruit brandies and more -- each of which possess distinct flavors. Despite differences in factors like preparation, ingredients and aging, what brandies all have in common is an indefinite shelf life, if stored properly once opened. So go ahead and treat yourself to a fine bottle of brandy that can be enjoyed at your leisure.
The term brandy is derived from the Dutch word brandewijn, which means “burnt wine,” a reference to its distillation process in that it is heated, or burnt, to distill. While there are several different types of brandy, the term alone typically refers to those brandies made from grapes. Brandies made from other fruits are referred to generically as fruit brandies or by the specific fruit from which they are made. Most brandies are aged in wooden casks to add additional flavors and aromas to the spirit, as well as developing the resulting color of the liquor. The alcohol content of brandy varies, though many are around 50 percent alcohol by volume.
Air Is Brandy's Foe
Air may be necessary for our survival, but it is detrimental to liquor’s. Once you open a bottle of brandy, you are introducing it to evaporation and oxidation, processes that slowly begin to degrade the quality of the liquor. As the brandy deteriorates due to air exposure, so too does the flavor and strength of the liquor. Deterioration occurs more quickly with less liquid remaining in the bottle. To preserve smaller amounts of brandy for longer, pour the remaining liquor into a smaller bottle to slow down the deterioration process.
Preserving the Spirit
Brandy drinkers can rest assured that a bottle of their favorite spirit will last indefinitely as long as the proper steps are taken to ensure that it is stored properly. Brandy should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place, like a pantry or storage cabinet. The bottle of brandy should also be tightly sealed to protect against air exposure, which deteriorates the quality over time.
Brandy Is Dandy
Brandies are usually served alone as after-dinner aperitifs. Serving brandy in snifters releases the flavors and aroma for maximum enjoyment. Brandy is also a popular ingredient in many classic mixed drinks, including the Brandy Alexander, the Sidecar and the Stinger as well as the Hot Toddy, which is served hot.
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